Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Those were the days, my friend

One of the tragedies of advancing age is having to listen to lots of Radio Four retrospectives on various Sixties and Seventies musicians and performers, presented by people who believed - and still believe - that it was all terribly important. You know the sort of people - ten years later they thought the Clash were important.

Of course they were important - just not perhaps in the way we thought at the time.

So last week mothers at home with pre-school children were treated to a 9 am rerun, complete with a liberal sprinkling of f-words, of the John Lennon interview with Rolling Stone (for which see here) founder Jan Wenner.

The blurb said it all :

He holds forth throughout on the subjects of art and politics, his own musical genius, his love for Yoko, drugs, primal therapy and mysticism.

Lennon's 'own musical genius' being something of which interviewer Mr Wenner was convinced - and if Lennon ever sounded doubtful, Yoko would pop up to prop up, so to speak. The whole thing is very Spinal Tap. Listen here if masochism's your thing.

The following week we had Jacqui Springer on Motown and rap. Pretty dire stuff - whatever your views on Lennon (and his solo stuff was pants) he did knock out some decent music with Macca. Alas Grandmaster Flash and the Sugarhill Gang never did a lot for me - compared to the reggae MCs of the time they were hopelessly uninventive and slow. If you don't believe me listen to 'The Message' from 1982 - then if you can find it on the web (I can't, though there's a live youtube that doesn't do the tune justice) try the studio version of Philip Levi's 'Mi God Mi King' from a year or two later. From a Ford Anglia to a Ferrari.

UPDATE - there's apparently an mp3 at this tasteful site - BUT this chap likes producing mixes. The whole thing is 110 meg and Papa Levi is near the end.


Foxy Brown said...

Part of the reason why I get misty-eyed about growing up under Thatcher is that the early 1980s were a golden age for British pop. Such wonderful songs and happy memories...people could walk the streets at night without fear; I knew all the neighbours in my street and believe it or not most of the locals in the immediate area; all the kids in my district attended the local primary and we all walked to school (being supervised by the elder children); we played out all day in summer and ate Mr Whippy 99 ice cream cones, fizzy lemon sherbet with liquourice sticks and spangles (another thing obesity was non-existent).

I look back on this time with great affection although this is tinged with sadness because I remember my dad being furious about the treatment of the miners and the fact that a way of life was being destroyed. That was something I with my innocent childlikeness couldn't understand at the time. I belonged to the last generation of who had a childhood. Now I weep whenever I watch Billy Elliot because this film encapsulates my present conflicting emotions of that time.

bill said...

Yes. I liked Mary too.

'Eddie Willers' said...

Motown - in the glory days of Holland/Dozier/Holland, where all performers were expected to dress formally and comport themselves with dignity, there were great tunes that still endure. Consider that as late as 1969, Diana Ross & The Supremes could sing "I'm Livin' In Shame" and be taken seriously.

Fast forward to the 1986 watershed - Niggaz With Attitude "Straight Outta' Compton". Bile, misogyny, vulgarity, coarseness, brutality.

How the star of black music has fallen!

Trofim said...

To my mind, Pink Floyd used the most prophetic song title of those far off distant times. The ethos it promulgates is now official policy: We don't need no Edukashun.

Anonymous said...

IMHO The work of Lennon & McCartney in the Beatles is proving to be the West's last popular cultural Hurrah.It dated pretty much everything that came before it and nothing since has come within a light year of matching its astonishingly consistent quality

Verily I say unto you We will not see their like again.
That both John and Paul were nearly always shite post Beatles is a conundrum.

I grew up in the 80's and yes the music was fab but ultimately it mostly froth